Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Twisted fibers

Today I’ve been twisting fuzzy pieces of colored string together to make a fiber necklace. I twist and twist and, when I put them down, they untwist even though I’ve tied the ends. They simply unroll. So I talked with Lisa about spinning. She said that you have to spin the fiber one way but twist it a different way when you put several strands together. It’s not as easy as it might sound.

I figured out which way the individual strings were twisted and I put them all the same way. Then I twisted the strings together in the opposite direction. I did this for two sets. But, when I tried to put them together, somehow, I got one strand turned around and as I tried to entwine them, one would unravel while the other one got tighter. Now, mind you, I didn’t discover this until I had already taped and wired the ends together and tried to put on some decorative bits. Then I realized that the pieces simply didn’t cohere.

Twisting fibers together is like twisting life’s events to make a good day. We put a different spin on different things to make the day come out the way we want it to be. Sometimes the fibers come unraveled at the end of the day, and everything we’ve done seems for nothing. Sometimes the pieces just fit right.

As we learn more and more about how to fit the parts of our lives together, we find that the fibers stay put better. First you twist one strand to the right, and then you twist the other strand to the left – the balance holds it together. What a concept!! Now if I could just figure out which direction the strands are going, I’d be in good shape. Something in the friction, maybe, keeps them together.

Again, it’s the balance, the fitting together of parts so that they don’t slide apart. It’s what we do with our days and our lives. We try to find the pattern and make the various parts of the pattern fit together and stay together. Some unravel and come apart, and some don’t. We have good days and bad days. (Brilliant observance, huh?) But, it’s the friction or lack of friction that holds the pieces together or makes them slide apart. We have to reflect on the day and the days and fit the pieces together so that they make a whole. Sometimes we need more pieces than other times. Sometimes, it’s hard to see the pattern.

I wonder how this corresponds to chaos theory or wave/particle theory. Scientists, therapists, and all sorts of people are tying their ideas to some form of one or both of these theories. Mental health practitioners talk about neurons in the brain firing in seemingly unrelated patterns – chaos, but when enough of them fire at once some sort of pattern emerges. These patterns often conform to things in nature like ferns, leaves, and morph into waves. Then, they talk about the waves of thoughts and the waves of neuron firings that form complex thought and how any one single neuron firing can change the way a thought pattern goes.

I guess as we grow older these wave patterns are more likely to be disturbed as we lose some of our neuron power. And, mental illnesses can make the chaos theory fit better than the wave theory. Training different neurons to take over previous thought patterns or develop new ones is a key to making changes in one’s life, one’s thinking and one’s happiness. I wonder if the transition from this life to whatever comes next is a realignment of our neurons into a different pattern.

My writing is sort of like chaos theory. I start with just putting words on paper – whatever is in my mind at the time. Gradually, as I write, some pattern, some logic, some reasoning becomes evident, and a theme is possible. That’s when the editing begins. Hummm. Perhaps that’s what I forget in trying to twist the pieces of the day into some sane pattern. I forget the editing; I forget to look at things from a different angle. I forget to snip and paste and reformat things to make them fit better – to make better sense of what’s happened. That’s not changing the past but changing how one interprets the past in light of the bigger picture.

An artist can see both details and overall picture, and we need to do that when we reflect on our days or weeks or lives. We need to put the details into perspective with the larger framework of our lives. Therapy, 12-step work, and meditation all help do this.

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